Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fish Tacos

From Lila:
So today I made fish tacos with “pickled” red onions well actually they’re marinated in almost all of a small bottle of red wine vinegar but still it’s kind of like pickling. Sorry that I haven’t been blogging so much lately but I’ve actually had a lot of social events going on like my fourth grade teacher taking me out to dinner with two of my friends. Also I’ve had to do a lot of my math homework (uggh…)

Anyway this summer I’ve learned a considerably large amount of things but the three most important things that I’ve learned is: cutting onions sucks, cutting jalapeños sucks because today was the first time I have ever cut jalapeños and I got jalapeño juice on my face, trust me it was painful, finally I’ve learned don’t slack on your piles of math homework. Wow that was a long cheesy list, so back to reality. This whole fish taco experience was certainly interesting to say the least, not the actual cooking but the butting heads between me and my mom. I mean our time in the kitchen together could turn into a hit reality TV show like… well I can’t think of one of those trashy reality shows right now but I will. My favorite topping was the marinated red onion. Since I hated the Pico-de-Gallo, it was really the only other condiment that I could like. I was really excited about “pickling” the onions because I’ve had them on amazing tacos at this taco place called Oaxaca that have the pickled onions on them (delish). So bye, oh and you must try this fish taco recipe.     

From Ambika:
I'm posting this during commercials while watching the Olympics (I love the Olymics!). I just want to add that we used mahi mahi for theses tacos, which was really great (and pricey). I do kind of wish I had recorded the jalapeño chopping drama. Although Lila resisted quite vehemently at first, she did successfully seed and chop a jalapeño. So she gets big points for that and for making some really delicious fish tacos!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Brunch with Friends

From Lila:
Okay so it’s 7:48 PM right now and I’m blogging.  This isn’t my usual blogging time but yesterday Bela (my mom’s friend) took me, my mom, and her two boys Kabir and Siddarth to brunch. The restaurant was my choice of course. Bela wanted to see us since she was in Brooklyn and figured it would be perfect because then I could blog about it. So I had to pick a place that had soft foods because I got the rest of my braces put on this Thursday. It caused me excruciating pain on Friday - it made it so I could barely chew (they’re still causing me pain.) Naturally I picked Flatbush Farm a farm to table restaurant and I’m pretty sure some of its food is Mexican influenced. Anyway the restaurant is about one mile away from where I live so I had to get to Flatbush Farm by crossing the Gowanus Canal which for those of you who don’t know the Gowanus Canal is this disgusting murky chemical filled canal that people go kayaking in sometimes.

 Here’s what we ordered: me and me my mom ordered The Ranch Hand Breakfast which consisted of corn chips which were smothered pepper sauce on top of those chips were scrambled eggs with thinly sliced radishes as a garnish, under those chips was lime cream with that was some sort of pepper paste, it was amazing and the chips soaked up all of the pepper sauce. Bela and Kabir ordered the Farmers Breakfast but Kabir ordered it with a side of bacon and Bela ordered it with a side of garlicky greens, which are amazing. The farmers breakfast consists of an egg ant style, potato plantain hash, and a side of either greens or bacon. I got this dish last time I went to Flatbush Farm and it was okay, it wasn’t special but since I hate bacon I got the greens, which are amazing.  Yes I know that for those of you who love bacon I’ve committed a serious crime but I personally think it’s disgusting. 

 Anyway Siddarth got the crispy duck confit, which consists of duck (obviously) a duck egg and a lentil something pilaf. I’ve never actually had duck confit but thanks to my aunt Deborah I’ve actually had duck. Somewhere in the time I was at Flatbush Farms someone said something about Ice cream so me and my mom both nearly jumped up and said Van Leeuwens in unison.  We wound up going to Van Leeuwen an ice cream place in cobble hill.

 I have to back track right now because I still have stuff to say about Flatbush Farms. So while we were waiting for our food I was looking at this woman’s burger and fries nearly drooling, I’m not kidding I have a palette expander which makes me drool quite a lot, and I was also trying not to drool by looking at an awesome brick wall with ivy crawling up it’s side. Man the food was good there.

Anyway on to Van Leeuwen: When I walked in there I really had to go pee so I couldn’t exactly admire the wallpaper and lovely décor but I did take an unnecessary amount of time to choose an ice cream flavor because hey ice cream is so much more important than peeing. So the ice cream flavor I chose was cinnamon because it tasted kind of like the cinnamon butter cream that is on the red velvet cupcake at BAKED in Brooklyn. I also chose it because I love cinnamon. After I went to the bathroom I finally got to taste bowl of the cinnamon flavored ice cream, it tasted really cinnamony and as I referred to before it tasted like the cinnamon butter cream from BAKED but it also tasted kind of creamy, so I know this’ll sound cheesy but there are no words to describe how good the cinnamon ice cream is. So bye I have to go and make green beans for tonight’s dinner.  


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Peking Duck House

From Lila: 
So yesterday I didn’t actually cook anything for dinner but instead I went to The Peking Duck House and I actually tried Peking duck, I know big shocker right? Anyway the Peking Duck House was in Chinatown and for those of you who live in New York as you already know it was a torrential downpour at around 5:30 PM. My mom, my aunt, and me unfortunately got caught in that downpour and had to stop under a jewelry shop awning for about five minutes. While we were under that awning we admired the jewelry. So once the rain had let up a bit we started walking again. When we finally got there it was like 5:35, which I wasn’t too happy about because I’m a bit neurotic about being late [we had a reservation at 5:30.] Anyway enough about me now I’m going to actually review the restaurant, Peking Duck House.

When I walked into the Peking Duck House we were seated at a table that had an excellent view of this awesome light art and, wait for it, wait for it…. The front of the kitchen, how awesome is that? Aside from the partially awesome view the restaurant was insanely cool. Here’s what my mom, my aunt and me had for dinner, Peking duck, sizzling prawns with fried rice, and some appetizers.

Once you get the duck the waiters bring it by you and show you the duck. As some of you may know Peking duck comes with it’s head on, so when you see the duck with it’s head on it does two things to you, first it kind of creeps you out with its glassy dead eyes just staring at you and second it kind of makes you feel bad that a duck had to die to just so that it could be digested. After you got over the fact that the duck you’re about to eat has a head its actually quite tasty. The duck is served with the Chinese version of a flour tortilla, hoison sauce, plus scallions and cucumbers. Once you bite into the tortillaish thing then the crunchy duck skin and the rich duck meat that is covered in the hoison sauce and the scallions you have a pretty perfect bite.

When the chef brings out the prawns and makes them sizzle some how then bring it over to your table. Tip: don’t touch the spoon that’s in the bowl of prawns like six seconds after its put on the table because sort of low down on the spoon it burns you (that’s what happened to me.) Anyway it was one of the best dinners I have ever had.

From Ambika: 
I have to give it up to my sister Deborah for introducing us to the Peking Duck House. I admit to being skeptical but agree with Lila, who basically said it all about the duck – kind of disturbing and yes delicious. As a former vegetarian and somewhat reluctant meat eater, seeing a whole duck like that with head on was pretty intense. But if I’m eating meat I also think I should have some awareness of exactly what it is I am eating (rather than the usual neatly packaged stuff).

I would also like to add that we had Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce which I LOVE (I love Chinese broccoli pretty much any way it’s made)! They do give you A LOT of food so make sure you are plenty hungry when you go there. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Guest Chef: Cousin Jordan

From Lila:
So today I made green curry with my cousin Jordan. Once again I didn’t get to read my MAD Magazines. So the green curry was really good but didn’t exactly smell delectable it smelled kind of like fish sauce mixed with the “great” smell of fish shops in Chinatown. I don’t really have anything else to say that’s funny, wait hold that thought I have more stuff to talk about. So today as you already know my cousin Jordan came over to cook dinner with me but you’ll be happy to know I got in my mandatory relaxing hours and cooking with Jordan was quite fun as they would say in sophisticated terms. So I was cutting onions that were really strong [uggh] and as you already know when cutting onions your eyes water a lot. I also had to zest half a lime the other Jordan did. Wow there’s a lot of tedious work involved in making a good curry [uggh, again.]  But all in all my dinner making experience was pretty great. Wow what I just said was the second cheesiest thing I have written. Bye people I have to get back to reading the babysitters club graphic novel.

From Ambika:
Many thanks to our cousin Jordan for teaching Lila how to make green curry. We made it with tofu, zucchini and snow peas. It was delicious! Jordan is a wonderful and patient teacher (I am admittedly not so patient). We all had a great time and got lots of pics!

 Pressing the tofu.

 Marinating the tofu.

Green curry sauce.

Jordan showed Lila a great way to chop zucchini.

Looks good (also I love this pan)!

Green Curry - yum!

Friday, July 13, 2012


From Lila:
So I have no idea what to write for the blog but my mom is forcing me to write a post since I’ve been slacking a little. So today I made sliders its Alton brown’s recipe [he has my favorite team on the next food network star.] Anyway I had to make sliders at 10:30 in the morning and that wasn’t such a pleasurable experience to say the least. Well one of the only good things that happened today was that I kind of got all of my relaxing hours in but unfortunately I didn’t actually get to read MADL My relaxing hours consisted of reading and getting my mom really angry [sorry mom.] So today didn’t go very well but my burgers were delicious. So bye, sorry there are no pictures I forgot to take them.   

From Ambika:
As all parents know, we love our children even when they are driving us bananas! Now onto the sliders which Lila made yesterday. They were delicious! My husband gets the credit for finding this recipe from Alton Brown at He also gets the credit for buying the cast iron grill pan that makes all the difference (and generates a lot of smoke). Since we forgot to take pictures of the meal here is a pic of the crazy cookbook Lila and her dad are reading: Life Magazine Picture Cookbook from 1963. 

We have never made any of the recipes from this book. But John and Lila love reading cookbooks like this because the recipes are absurd and disgusting. Right now they are singing a song about this recipe: lamb tongues with raisin sauce. You can imagine.

Penne with Broccoli & Garlic

From Lila:
“So yesterday I blew off yet another night of blogging to make up for the relaxation hours I had lost two days ago because I was making that scallop stir fry that sucked. Fortunately yesterday I didn’t waste my time on a sucky dish that took up all of my relaxation hours. Instead I made smart decision and made the perfect broccoli and pasta that’s not actually what it’s called but it was pretty perfect. So anyway today I’m spending my day not cooking, relaxing, and you guessed it reading MAD Magazine [unfortunately still had to do some actual work.] so bye, as you already know my mom will post the recipe. P.S. I hope that you have had at least one day to do nothing this summer vacation.”

From Ambika:
I am running a bit behind in posting these days. Sorry all. This was Tuesday’s dinner. Penne with Broccoli has been one of my favorite dishes since I was in my twenties (long time ago now) and first had it at an Italian restaurant. So this was kind of torturous for me, as I am not eating wheat these days and it looked and smelled sooooo good! That said I have made this dish for years (when I was eating wheat of course – the glory days) with many variations. This latest version is so far my favorite. My husband John discovered the book “How to Boil Water” (great cookbook btw) from the FoodNetwork when he was teaching himself how to cook a couple of years ago. One night he made a recipe for spaghetti with olive oil & garlic from that book and it came out fabulous! I have since adapted the recipe to penne with broccoli (which is how Lila made it). I now blanch my broccoli first, which makes it much better. Got this idea from “How to Boil Water” as well. Actually I knew about blanching long ago but resisted it for some reason. Can’t imagine why…

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pan Fried Sea Scallops and Roasted Potatoes

From Lila:
“So it’s 8:30 in the morning and I’m unfortunately sitting here writing my blog post that I should’ve done last night but instead was watching Legally Blonde. Yesterday I made lemony scallop stir-fry at least that’s what I think it was called anyway, it sucked. I highly doubt that it was a good Introduction to scallops because they were chewy, tough, and slimy [uggh!]   So besides the scallops that sucked, I made the best roasted potatoes they are so addictive once you eat one you want to eat the whole plate or bowl. As you can already see I didn’t get my mandatory relaxing hours in. So bye my mom is going to post the link to the herb roasted potatoes. P. S.  I didn’t actually use the herbs. I think it makes the potatoes better.”

From Ambika:
I just want to say how proud I am of Lila for choosing and making this dish. She had no help or guidance from me since I have never made scallops before. She picked this recipe on her own. She wanted to make shrimp at first but since we are aware of the problem of overfishing on this planet we are now trying to only buy seafood according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guide. Lila did all the shopping for this dish and went to both seafood stores in our neighborhood looking for shrimp that were sustainably caught, and as you can see from the menu she was unsuccessful in finding any. Scallops it seems are ok from most places and so easier to obtain. I actually like scallops although I didn’t like this recipe. Anyone out there with a favorite recipe/method for cooking scallops please let me know.

The potatoes were truly scrumptious and Lila found the recipe on the Food Network website from Tyler Florence.    

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Risotto and Roasted Broccoli

From Lila:
“Today I made risotto as you probably know from the title.  Tonight’s dinner was slightly less tedious than the previous dinners that I have made just because it didn’t involve any really pesky vegetable washing. So today I started making dinner at 4:30 because of the all of the homework and relaxing I had to do, but mainly it had to do with the fact that my mom had yet another park slope food co-op shift to do. So while my mom was out doing a co-op shift I was doing my summer math homework [uggh] and sitting around re-reading one of my MAD magazines. It’s kind of weird thinking that 91 degrees isn’t that hot but it was unfortunately hot in my kitchen. Even though it was like heat extortion being in the kitchen, it was so worth it for the risotto. I know that probably sounds crazy to most people especially the heat sensitive [like me] but there aren’t a lot of things I wouldn't do for a good bowl/plate of food. So bye I have to get back to relaxing. P.s. my mom will post the link to the cookbook that I made the risotto from and will write about the roasted broccoli that she made. “

Ambika here - This was actually Friday’s dinner but we got busy going to the pool and whatnot, so I’m just posting it now. I got the idea for roasted broccoli from my friend Marsha (thanks Marsha). I LOVE cooking it this way for a change since I cook so much broccoli. Here is a good recipe from epicurious. I of course simplify so I just use olive oil and salt.

The risotto recipe is from Real Simple: Meals Made Easy. It is very tasty and is relatively easy to make. We used chicken stock from a box but if anyone out there has a recommendation for vegetable broth in a box, please let me know. So far all I’ve tried are pretty terrible.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Collaborative Dinner: Winging It

For tonight’s dinner due to a myriad of causes and conditions we ended up kind of winging it. Lila made sautéed green beans with garlic and she is writing about that bit. I made avocado sushi for the kids with leftover sticky rice (this is a dinner I make at least once a week if not more) and I also pan fried some tofu for the grownups (Lila ate some too though). 

From Lila:
"Today I made  "extra browned" garlic green beans and I just lost my blog post so I'm re-writing my blog post right now [so irritating.] Anyway so when my mom told me I had to make green beans I wasn't too thrilled because yesterday was The 4th of July so I stayed up until 10:30 then my little brother woke me up at 7:00 plus I felt like just sitting around and reading MAD magazine all day. So after  my mom told me numerous times that I had to make green beans I got up and started to clean them [while reading MAD,of course.] I washed the green beans. Note: don't pour the green beans into the strainer because residue will get caught in the strainer then it will get stuck on them. I did that today, thank goodness that my mom hasn't found out yet. Then you snap the ends off of green beans. Note: you probably shouldn't read while snapping the ends off of the green beans [like I did] because one, you might not notice that there are some bad spots on the green beans and two you'll most likely get your reading material wet. Bye, now i have to read my post over again [sigh.]"

I am adding this bit: The trick I have found is to blanch the green beans for about 3 mins in salted boiling water and then drain, rinse under cold water. Then saute garlic in olive oil and add the green beans and just warm through. I didn't start blanching veggies until this year and now I do it all the time!            

My sushi is very pedestrian as you will see from the photos but I do have some tips I have picked up along the way. You need sticky rice or sushi rice and the proportions for cooking are different than most rice. For 1 cup of dried rice add 1¼ cups of water. I have only made 2 cups at a time so I’m not completely sure if these proportions work if you make 3 cups or more. The basics are the same: rinse the rice several times in cold water until the water is fairly clear and drain. Then add the water to the rice and bring to a boil. Lower heat as low as the flame will go and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 mins covered and then spread out on a plate to cool. Once the rice is cool you can put it in a bowl and add a mixture of rice vinegar, salt & sugar. The recipe for making the mixture can be found here along with some good instructions. I keep it simple and kind of guesstimate amounts of the vinegar mixture for the rice since I am sometimes only making 2 rolls.

Here is basically what I do:
Cut the nori sheet in have and place down at the lower end of your bamboo sushi mat. I pat the rice down with a spoon and then dip my fingers in a bowl of cold water and smooth it all down.
Add avocado and roll it all up slowly and as tightly as you can.

Unroll and then take it off the mat to cut. I use a good serrated knife which I wet first with warm water (this really helps).

And voila!

Pan fried tofu: I just use olive oil and Braggs Liquid Aminos. You can use soy sauce of course.

My dinner tonight: leftover sushi rice with some olive oil and Braggs, tofu, avocado, and Lila's green beans. Some Sriracha is also a very wonderful addition!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 1

This summer my 11 year old daughter said she didn’t want to go to camp and so I said well then you are in charge of the family dinners. Although this may sound a bit like child labor I should mention that Lila LOVES to cook and loves all things about food (except of course what she hates). She has been reading cookbooks for years – just for fun, and she is truly a first generation child of food TV as well. So there you go. She also loves going out to eat especially to priceyish restaurants but we are kind of broke these days hence the cooking. Our grand experiment begins today. I’ve been trying to get her to make all the dishes I would if I had all day to cook. I should also mention here my 5 year old son is allergic to nuts and dairy and I am now wheat intolerant. So the real challenge (which I am happy to give up after being the main cook in the family thus far) is how to cook meals the whole family not only can eat, but might also actually enjoy. My son of course is incredibly picky and really only loves fruit and candy and avocado sushi (Lila taught me how to make sushi by the way – ok her and my friend Nick who is an adult).

Tonight’s menu:  
Penne with basil pesto
Arugula salad with balsamic vinaigrette, goat cheese, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.  
The toppings including goat cheese are all on the side and of course optional. I went for them all. I should mention here that our pesto is of course nut free so we just use lots of basil, a small amount of garlic, olive oil and salt. That’s it. Lila, my husband and myself all add parmesan and I like to add chopped fresh tomatoes.

All I did for this dinner was to give some instructions on washing basil (must wash 3 times!), ingredients for pesto (not portions), and how long to cook the pasta, then I was in charge of poring the boiling water and pasta into the strainer. Lila did everything else. I did make my own rice pasta (my friend recommended Tinkyada  brown rice pasta, spaghetti style, which is really pretty good. The trick is to turn down the flame and cook the pasta on medium rather than high).  I must say the dinner was delicious! Lila is already the queen of salad dressing in our house.

Lila will not be cooking for the next couple of days (so many social engagements) so the next blog post will be on Thursday. Now back to the season premiere of Weeds (premium cable TV is one of the many reasons we are broke - sigh).

tedious work. Getting ALL of the sand off of the basil.
All of the black and withered basil that is going in the compost ( my mom is very enviromentally  friendly.)